Somali lifeguards giving back at Coburg Leisure Centre

After nearly two years of swimming lessons and industry training, 15 inspiring Somali youth from Melbourne’s inner suburbs have graduated from an LSV initiative designed to create jobs, raise diversity within the aquatics industry and address the worrying water safety education ‘gap’ among multicultural communities.

Inspired by Coburg Leisure Centre staff members Abdullahi Mohamed (18) and Khalif Mohamed (18), who ‘blazed the trail’ in a pilot project a year earlier, the group not only saw pool lifeguarding and swim teaching as an attractive employment option, but also a way to give back to their wider community.

Abdullahi said he was lucky enough to be introduced to pool lifeguarding over a year ago.

“I’m thrilled so many of my friends are working in aquatics.

“As role models in an area not typically associated with our community, we are all now able to genuinely raise the profile of water safety.”

LSV Multicultural Projects Manager David Holland said the biggest challenge was that almost all needed to do a lot of work on their swimming and that took time.

“Yet they stuck with it and now all are in positions to not only protect the public around water but to also become positive role models for all youth.”

Their entry into the workforce as pool lifeguards and swimming teachers at Coburg Leisure Centre and other pools in Reservoir, Northcote and Maribyrnong is timely, as last year 35 per cent of all Victorian drownings were people born in another country.

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